This “Question of the month” was submitted on the AOPA flying clubs Facebook Group by Landon Lewis of Springfield Missouri. What began as a discussion of web sites and recruitment evolved into a larger discussion of other marketing techniques.
Several clubs reported having had great success attracting new members through their web sites and the value of social media like Facebook or craig’s list to promote their club. However, there were a few comments reminding everyone that a web site is a passive form of communication and nothing beats an active presence on the field.
Betsy Sanpere of the Nantucket Flying Association reminded everyone of the traditional marketing/public relations methods, like reaching out to local media and Colin Maitland of the Capitol City Flyers in Madison, Wisconsin share the club’s experience with direct mail.
The discussion included practical advice as well, including how clubs use their sites and what elements to include that will help make a web site more attractive to viewers.
Thanks to everyone that contributed to this discussion. Sharing ideas and knowledge between clubs is precisely why we have the Facebook page and the Club Connector newsletter!
More actual responses are below.
“Landon, we get 50% of our new prospects through our website! Well worth the $5/ month we pay. However, you can't just create one and sit back, you need to maintain it and direct traffic to it. Facebook, Google and AOPA Club Finder help with this. We also have Marketing material that we post and hand out that direct traffic to our website. Lastly, we use a separate website internally for members to schedule our aircraft and post information.”
“Winnebago Flying Club gets a huge % of its new members from word of mouth followed directly by website, then lastly Facebook/social media. A good up to date website is required in todays world.”
“We use MyFbo.(scheduling, billing, notification) We export data to Quick Books to send invoices as pdf though e-mail. A club website is essential and well worth the investment. This does not need to be fancy but any club to build membership and camaraderie needs a simple decent website. See: http://newwebpower.com for ideas?”
“It appears that what many sites lack are details on club membership. That you merely exist and own X number of aircraft is insufficient to draw commitments from people. Add things like membership requirements, costs, responsibilities, availability (based on fact, not emotion), etc..”
“For ‘recruiting new members,’ nothing beats a well-planned PR and media outreach program with regular article placements in your local and regional papers. Also, a monthly column and events, along with radio and community TV. Get your message out and send your contacts to the website. Good luck!”
“Everyone on here seems to have positive reviews for their sites and the benefits. I'm curious why more clubs don't have websites then? Cost? Technological barriers? Something else?”
“what does your marketing material consist of? Are you just handing out brochures and/or fliers that echo what's on the site but use that to drive traffic to the site?”
“anyone ever tried direct mail campaign? postcards are pretty cheap and the pilots list is free via FAA.”
“we have many targeted items. Business cards, tri-fold brochures, tee-shirts, hats, invitation cards, direct mail postcards, car magnets...etc. We have had great success with Vistaprint. We attend local airport open houses by flying in our DA-40.”
“we have done direct mail campaigns to all pilots in the county, not much success. I also do direct mail to all new pilots to the region with more success.”
“Re the website question. A quality, dynamic website is essential for member recruitment. That and a presence at the Page Field (KFMY) annual Aviation Day with our aircraft on display. We've tried it all, including direct mail, news ads, posters, member recruitment programs, etc., etc. None can compete with the success of a website or face to face. Web costs are very low. Additionally, members can get to our scheduling system through the website.”
“Great discsussion! We're investigating ways to increase the visibility of TenHi Flyers to prospective candidates now. Our website lists the details about the club and becoming a member, and we get hits from/ on google and AOPA search lists. We use AircraftClubs.com for scheduling. Surprisingly, we've had a number of candidates find us via ads on craigslist.”
“Our key driver for new membership is that we have active flight instructors which utilize our fleet to provide instruction as well as eventually bring in active members to the club. We do have a web site, but it is a very passive method to develop membership.”